Japan’s people are primary affiliated with Buddhism and/or Shintoism, yet even that has a largely secular and loose flavor. Their moral fabric is very different from the various American moral fabrics. And there is no truer test of morality than a disaster.
I was not surprised by the reports of the relative scarcity of looting after the recent Japanese devastation when compared to the looting in the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, the England floods, and the Louisiana hurricane — and all those countries have large Christian influences. However, the lack of looting in pagan Japan probably seems odd to Christians who feel that true morality only springs from a love (and fear) of their Jehovah. I wonder how that sort of Christian explains this in their mind.
During my seven years in Japan I was always awkwardly adjusting to the Japanese moral fabric: obligation, shame, self-effacement, neatness, thriftiness, family, non-standing-outness, industriousness and much more. And though much of it was hard for me and a bad fit, I was often a benefactor of this system. For instance, being a forgetful soul, I lost my cash-laden wallet several times in Japan and each time had it returned intact by friendly strangers. Another huge example is when a close Scottish friend’s house burned down, his Japanese neighbors (who hardly knew him) gathered together all sorts of support while the foreign community (who knew him well) barely lifted a finger.
The web of ethics in Japan is rich and deep. But it is not Buddhist, not Shinto, it is complexly Japanese. Likewise, US ethics is not Christian, Jewish or otherwise. Sure, religion can influence ethics, but it is only part of the picture. Ethics is much deeper than religion — to think otherwise is naive.